Blog

What to Bring to a Gun Fight

Dan Pfeiffer:

The fatal flaw in the Democratic strategy is a failure to heed one of the key lessons of twenty first-century American politics: Democrats never win when they fight on Republican terms.

Republicans have defined the terms of the debate on guns and instead of trying to change those terms, we have resigned ourselves to playing on their turf. The Democratic approach to guns is one of the last vestiges of the mushy strategic applesauce that dominated 1990s DLC-style centrism—the only way to beat Republicans is to try to sound more like them. It is a defensive posture borne of a defeatist mindset that is more a product of Democratic psychology than of political reality. Democrats speak softly and carry a small stick to the gun fight because they have convinced themselves that Republicans have the law, politics, and a presumption of victory on their side. The truth is less daunting, but unless Democrats come around to that truth, the presumption of Republican victory will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Everything Easy is Hard Again

Frank Chimero, writing on his blog:

This past summer, I gave a lecture at a web conference and afterward got into a fascinating conversation with a young digital design student. It was fun to compare where we were in our careers. I had fifteen years of experience designing for web clients, she had one year, and yet some how, we were in the same situation: we enjoyed the work, but were utterly confused and overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing complexity of it all. What the hell happened?

Great post.

Your Twitter Followers are Probably Bots

Elaine:

The New York Times had an interesting feature over the weekend in which it calls out various social media influencers for follower fraud. Many people who appear to have huge Twitter followings actually don’t, and their fans are in fact paid-for bots. Oooh, busted! Apparently there’s a class of people who make a career out of being popular on Twitter, and it is terribly scandalous that they are not as cool as they might seem. […]

The NYTimes analysis is compelling, but their target account selection was awfully limited. So I reproduced their Twitter tool to continue the investigation.

This is pretty cool. I’ve told this story before, but a few years back we ran a story on AbsolutePunk.net about how a certain band member in a certain band had most certainly paid for followers on Twitter. His (very mature) response was to buy a bunch of followers on my account. To this day I don’t really know how many were part of that (I tried to block and report a bunch of them at the time), but I do know that once my account got “verified” I see random, clearly bot, accounts start following me all the time.

Jason Tate’s Top Albums of 2017

Best of 2017

Well, 2017 happened. I think that’s about the best thing I can say for the entire damn year: it happened. While I’ll look back at 2017 as a bullshit year full of bullshit people doing bullshit things at a rate that can only be described as a national emergency, I’ll also remember the year for its pretty impressive musical output. I hope, in time, my love for the music that came from 2017 and my relationship with it, will be what I remember most. Below I cataloged my favorite albums from 2017, some of the albums I enjoyed but couldn’t really find a place in my top thirty, and some movies, TV shows, books, and apps that discovered for the first time this year.

There is also an episode of Encore all about my end of the year list and thoughts on music in 2017 — you can check that out here.

Thank you to everyone that visited the website this year, everyone that supports us, and for another extremely successful year of Chorus.fm. We’ll be extremely lucky if 2018 brings us even a fraction of what 2017 did music-wise. I wouldn’t mind a whole lot less of chaotic hellscape on a daily basis, but that’s just me.

Craig Manning’s Top Albums of 2017

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a music year quite like 2017. In terms of personal classics, it didn’t stack up to my favorite music years on record, like 2004 or 2015. But for maybe the first time ever, I would have been comfortable putting just about any album from my top 30 in my top 10. Indeed, every record up to about 19 or 20 was ranked in my top 10 for at least one draft of this list. Clearly, the breadth of good music from this year was stunning, and I feel fortunate to have been able to experience it.

Above all, this year was one of huge discovery for me. Of the 40 artists featured below, only 18 have made year-end lists of mine in the past. A few of the remaining 22 were artists I’ve known for awhile who realized their considerable potential in 2017. Most, though, were completely new finds for me, and a fair handful released debuts. Looking at those numbers, I can’t wait to see what new things will grace my ears in 2018. For now, though, I’m bidding farewell to 2017 by recounting the music that played as my life soundtrack during it. Here’s hoping my discoveries can become yours.

Drew Beringer’s Top Albums of 2017

 

 

It’s been discussed ad nauseam in nearly every year-end review: 2017 was the pits. And those sentiments aren’t wrong! 2017 sucked! We elected the worst president in this country’s history and we have a government trying to rob its citizens of basic rights. The world is melting around us while California burns to the ground. Things are bad! And outside of my wife, family, and friends, very little this year helped take things out of the shit. The major thing that helped get me (and I’m sure countless others) was the musical output of 2017 — there was an overwhelming amount of incredible stuff released over the course of 12 months and almost impossible to notate all. So instead of boring you with a list of my 100 favorite albums, I cut it down to the 10 that most impacted my life in 2017. Enjoy this list, feel free to share and discuss with me, and hope for better in November.

Becky Kovach’s Top Albums of 2017

For all the shit that 2017 put us through, it also gifted us with some truly incredible moments. Here’s to the albums that (in my opinion) made the bad a little more bearable, and gave us reason to reason to believe that better days are still possible. Thank you for inspiring us.

Aaron Mook’s Top Albums of 2017

Kevin Abstract is the ringleader of predominantly queer, self-described “All-American Boy Band” BROCKHAMPTON, who broke into the mainstream this year with a show on Viceland, numerous music videos and three studio albums, each one more killer than the last. He also can’t drive. To most, this detail is unimportant, but to me, someone who has struggled with driving anxiety and the shame surrounding it as I approach the age of 23, it means the world. It means that my flaws do not define me and that I also have the capability to work hard and utilize the resources around me to create something artistically satisfying.

If that seems heavy, well, 2017 was a heavy year – heavier than 2016 and with 2018 showing no signs of lightening up. Ironically enough, 2017 was a year of accomplishment for myself; I graduated from college, moved away from my hometown and worked on two studio albums, one of them being my own dream-pop debut and another being a friend’s hip-hop project. But BROCKHAMPTON has inspired me to push even further. I’ve recently taken to writing in a notebook, detailing the things I want to create (a podcast, a film script, the next Flower Crown LP) and the steps I need to take to get there.

Sponsor

The Death and Life of the 13-Month Calendar

Citylab:

The 13-month calendar worked so well at Kodak that the company used it until 1989, 57 years after Eastman committed suicide (a businessman to the end, his ashes are buried at Kodak’s old industrial complex). “I loved it,” says John Cirocco, a former Kodak employee who worked at the company in the late ’80s as a tech advisor. “It was a major piece of financial applications, and from a financial perspective it made the ability to compare sales periods a hell of a lot easier.”

Besides the occasional carryover (Kodak’s 1989 financial year began on December 26, 1988), overlapping a 13-month calendar with the Gregorian one came with surprisingly few hiccups. “After I got hired, it took about a week to adjust to,” Cirocco tells us. “When I first got there they explained it to me and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is brilliant!'” In fact, the former Kodak employee remains fond of the calendar to this day. “I’ve tried to recommend it at two places I’ve worked at since then. The feedback is always, ‘We can’t, this [12-month calendar] is how it’s always been done.'”

A Few Tips for Podcast Editing in Logic

Bret Terpstra:

Varispeed is a feature I didn’t realize existed until recently, but had always wished for. It lets you speed up the audio playback so you can basically listen through your podcast at 2x while editing.

Once the toolbar item is enabled, just use ⌃F (Control-F) to toggle it on and off. (I think that’s the default, but I might have edited that one. We’ll get to that below.)

Once it’s up, ensure that the type is set to Speed Only (click the top line for a menu), then double click on the percentage to edit it anywhere between -50% and 100% (100% being double normal playback speed). While playing back you can just hit the shortcut to speed up and then toggle it back off to return to normal speed. Scrubbing!

Some great stuff here.

Thanksgiving Week Is the Event College Basketball Needs

Mark Titus, writing at The Ringer:

The most absurd week ever of regular-season college basketball came to a close Sunday night/early Monday morning when no. 4 Michigan State held no. 9 North Carolina to 45 points, no. 16 Texas A&M blew out no. 10 USC in Los Angeles, and no. 1 Duke erased a 17-point second-half deficit to beat no. 7 Florida. There’s no way of fact-checking whether this was actually the most absurd regular-season week in college basketball history, of course, but I don’t think we need to bother. Shoot, these past seven days have been so wild that the “regular season” qualifier might not even be necessary. Wichita State’s comeback to beat Cal in the first round of the Maui Invitational happened last Monday, yet I could easily be convinced that it took place a decade ago because of all that’s transpired since.

The Voices in Blue America’s Head

The New York Times:

“Pod Save America” scored its first million-listener episode within its first several weeks, and it now averages 1.5 million listeners per show — about as many people as Anderson Cooper draws on prime-time CNN. Their podcast has come to occupy a singular perch in blue America; where an NPR tote bag once signified a certain political persuasion and mind-set, in the age of Trump, it’s a “Friend of the Pod” T-shirt.

Those numbers are insane. That said, the podcast is one of the few things that I look forward to each week to help navigate this current hellscape. It’s great.

The Fermi Paradox

Tim Urban, writing for Wait But Why:

Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this:

Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.

Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”

This is one of my favorite post on the internet, but I had never linked it here. Now I have. Highly recommended reading.

SuperDuper 3.0

SuperDuper 3.0 has been released:

With that last bit of explanation, I’m happy to say that we’ve reached the end of this particular voyage. SuperDuper! 3.0 (release 100!) is done, and you’ll find the download in the normal places, as well as in the built-in updater, for both Beta and Regular users.

SuperDuper! 3.0 has, literally, many hundreds of changes under the hood to support APFS, High Sierra and all version of macOS from 10.9 to the the present.

SuperDuper! 3.0 is the first bootable backup application to support snapshot copying on APFS, which provides an incredible extra level of safety, security and accuracy when backing up. It’s super cool, entirely supported (after all, it’s what Time Machine uses… and it was first overall), and totally transparent to the user.

Fantastic app that I highly recommend. I have a reoccurring task scheduled to make SuperDuper clones of my entire hard drive as part of my back-up strategy.

We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads

TED Talk:

We’re building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren’t even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.

This is good.

How Do You Go to a Gym, Though?

Casey Johnston, writing for The Hair Pin:

Kelly—I’m so glad you asked this, because as the Deepak Chopras and Oprahs and etc of the world will tell you, visualization is the key, or at least a key, to success. It’s impossible to prepare for every scenario but you wouldn’t know it to see my exhaustively anxious thought process. I am someone who tends to freeze up, and cannot, as they say, roll with the punches, so having thought through the motions does certainly help me. And Kelly, it can help you too.

This was hilarious.